Photo of Kris Tavella at property workshop
Kris Tavella, EDGE Property Coordinator. Photo: The United Church of Canada

Ministry in the Building: Regional Property Strategy at Festival of Faith

Commissioners to the 43rd General Council and attendees of the Festival of Faith were invited to a workshop on Regional Property Strategy given by Kris Tavella, EDGE’s Property Coordinator.

EDGE is a network for ministries that emerged from a mandate at the 42nd General Council in Corner Brook, NL. The staff at EDGE support congregations within The United Church of Canada for ministry renewal in existing communities, as well as provide resources for the establishment of new ministries.

Participants who gathered in the classroom at Durham College + University of Ontario Institute of Technology for this workshop were interested in exactly how social justice and property will be related in the new regional structure, and how to be a church in the neighbourhood. Numerous participants were also quick to recognize that we must walk the path of reconciliation and reparation through the sale of property and contributing to Indigenous ministries.

EDGE and its programs will be “useful for congregations as a resource as we move into this time of transition,” says Tavella. “This resource will also help congregations to make informed and empowered decisions toward sustainability.”

With this empowerment in United Church communities comes the ability to deepen theology and social engagement for various ministries. Workshop participants discussed the need for a theology of place and value, and recommended that in the next iteration of EDGE’s property strategy a theological statement be included that embraces property as a gift and a blessing.

“Ultimately, church is about the people”—this is something that we hear more and more often in the United Church—but when you have a building for your church, there is “so much more that these people can do.”

While the majority of participants in this workshop were from urban settings, Tavella stressed that the property strategy will not focus solely on city churches. “It will be used for congregations in their individual context across the country. There’s the ability to redistribute wealth across regions of the United Church and areas across the country.”

Members of communities of faith attend meetings and, time and again, bring forward concerns about their shrinking numbers and property costs. EDGE is presenting The United Church of Canada with alternatives to selling properties: resources to educate communities about leasing, redevelopment, and other options. This opportunity to provide autonomy and accountability to communities strengthens pastoral relationships, where the property becomes an integral element of the church, its worship, and the wider community.

If you’re interested in the work done by EDGE, feel free to visit their website. Along with property, EDGE focuses on ideas and innovations for new and emerging ministries.